A stylist wearing a protective mask cuts a customer’s hair at a barbershop in Atlanta, Georgia, on Monday, April 27, 2020.
Dustin Chambers | Bloomberg via Getty Images
A federal face mask mandate would not only cut the daily growth rate of new confirmed cases of Covid-19, but could also save the U.S. economy from taking a 5% GDP hit in lieu of additional lockdowns, according to Goldman Sachs.
Jan Hatzius, Goldman’s chief economist, said his team investigated the link between face masks and Covid-19 health and economic outcomes and found that facial coverings are associated with sizable and statistically significant results.
“We find that face masks are associated with significantly better coronavirus outcomes,” Hatzius wrote in a note to clients. “Our baseline estimate is that a national mandate could raise the percentage of people who wear masks by 15 [percentage points] and cut the daily growth rate of confirmed cases by 1.0 [percentage point] to 0.6%.”
“These calculations imply that a face mask mandate could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP,” the economist added.
He first focused on to what extent, if at all, the actual use of face masks reduces the infection rate of Covid-19 by looking at differences in population behavior by state. For example, Hatizus found only about 40% of respondents in Arizona say they “always” wear face masks in public, compared with nearly 80% in Massachusetts.
Goldman then analyzed the impact of mandates issued by 20 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia between April 8 and June 24 and compared it with actual face mask usage in public using YouGov Covid-19 respondent data.
The results are “large and highly significant” and show that state mask mandates raise the percentage of people who say they “always” or “frequently” wear masks by about 25 percentage points in the 30 days after the government order.
Meanwhile, the group of people who say they